McCAIN'S STRUGGLE EXPLAINED
Via Steve Benen, I see that former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, in today's Washington Post, has attempted to explain John McCain's current struggle. But I'm a bit confused. Here's what Gerson says:
... [S]ometimes a candidate who is down in the polls is not an incompetent but a bystander.... The diverging political fortunes of Barack Obama and McCain can be traced to a single moment. In the middle of September, the net favorable rating for each candidate was about the same. By Oct. 7, Obama was ahead on this measure by about 16 points. Did McCain suddenly become a stumbling failure? No, the world suddenly went into an economic slide. Americans blamed the party with executive power, which is also the party most closely tied in the public mind to bankers and Wall Street. None of this was fair to McCain, who has never been the Wall Street type. But party images are vivid, durable and almost impossible to shift on short notice.
Previous to this economic free fall -- and after his transformative vice-presidential choice -- McCain was about tied in a race he should have been losing by a large margin. The public clearly had questions about Obama's leadership qualities. But the McCain campaign also proved itself capable of constructing an effective narrative: Obama as lightweight celebrity, McCain as maverick reformer. Until history intervened....
OK, let's see if I have this straight.
Gerson is saying that McCain should have been losing by a large margin when he wasn't losing by a large margin, but now that he is losing by a large margin he shouldn't be losing by a large margin?
Right. Got it.